Euro 2008: The Only Thing Offside Was Italy's Play
Let's get this out of the way off the top:
Rule 11.11 - DEFENDER LEGALLY OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee's permission (and who thus requires the referee's permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.
Italy can scream all it wants. Based on the rules, Holland's Ruud van Nistelrooy was onside. The first Dutch goal was legitimate and any argument that today's 3-0 thrashing of the Italians would have been any different is rendered moot.
The truth is Italy was outplayed from start to finish and was full marks for the win. Italy looked disorganized, light years away from the form it showed just two years ago when it won the World Cup.
When you couple Holland's big win with the earlier 0-0 draw between France and Romania, the Dutch have to be ecstatic—they have seized control of the Group of Death.
Disoriented also were the French, who looked disinterested and confused against the organized Romanians. A punter watching the opening day would be forgiven for laying a fiver on the two favourites being the ones sent home after the group stage.
Romania is going to continue to play a tight game, so it will be up to their opponents to break them down. And, old Italy doesn't look like it has it in them.
It takes an upset to get any tournament going, and the Dutch have provided us with just that today. Now, things are getting interesting.
This is contrary to yesterday, where Croatia backed into a win against weak Austria, and the German team did what the Germans do against Poland. There is little to suggest that the trend won't continue moving forward in the least interesting group of Euro 2008.
Which is unlike the menu tomorrow, when the enigmatic Spain takes the pitch. You'd be hard pressed to find an expert on this side of Saskatchewan who isn't desperate to tell you that Spain is their darkhorse pick to stand amidst the confetti in three week's time. Of course, those same experts have been suggesting it's Spain's year for a decade and a half now.
Russia is just the type of team that tends to make the experts eat their words when it comes to Spain.
The other game? Oh, that just involves the defending champions who continue to go about there business with little fanfare or favour—kind of like in Portugal. Sweden will provide the opposition.
This tournament moves fast. After tomorrow everyone will have played once. Teams will start to be eliminated Wednesday. Don't blink, and whatever you do, don't turn away.
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